Sunday, October 16, 2011

Winding down

When I was a child, perhaps about 10 years old, my family used to go and visit my mother's uncle who lived about two and a half hours' drive from us.  Aunt Sue was probably my favorite aunt.  She and Uncle Ernie lived in a quaint little house that reminded me of a doll-house.  The pantry-style kitchen spilled out into a parlor, and I spent my time in the large living room where they made up a bed at night on the sofa.  In that living room there was a clock - one of those old mantle clocks that chimed, and you had to wind up the chimes when you wound up the clock.  It would chime on the quarter hour, half hour, three-quarter hour and the hour.  

I loved it.  There was something comforting about knowing that every fifteen minutes this thing would just keep reminding us that time would pass at the same speed whether we thought it did or not.  

I could hear it ticking faithfully in the night as well, a soothing reminder that I was not alone.  Others in my family thought it quite annoying.  They weren't used to the sound it made, it woke them up.  That was part of its charm for me as a child who was terrified of the dark - it gave me something to focus on, something that was constant and reliable.  

Every so often the movement would slow down, the chimes would become lazy, and the clock would lose time. It would "wind down." Sometimes the ticking would hesitate - a sure sign of loosened springs on the inside.  So it wasn't long before Aunt Sue would get out the key and wind the clockworks up again.  She'd have to do that first, and then slowly move the minute hand forward, stopping at the 15, 30, 45 and hour positions to allow the clock to chime and keep track of where in the cycle it was.  It was such fun to observe her doing this - a little woman not much taller than I was at 10 years old - and so intent on keeping this valuable machine in good shape, crucial in the days well before cell phones were even invented, much less pick up the correct time from a satellite during or after a power outage.  

I guess I started thinking about this as I pondered the tendency I have to "coast" sometimes in my recovery and in my daily relationships with God, myself and others.  When I start to coast like that, I become less reliable, more likely to mislead myself or others into a false sense of security.  It feels "loose" inside.  My reactions start to hesitate - I become unsure, insecure, obsessive.  I wind down in my motivation to maintain those crucial relationships.  

So that is when I need to take out the Key of prayer, meditation and self-examination and tighten up the primary relationship (with God) and the secondary one (with myself).  Then it's easy to wind up the third relationship (with others) and before long I'm "keeping time" .... and the hesitation, the insecurity, and the obsession are all gone.

No comments:

Post a Comment